It was another excellent night for the Canadian steer wrestlers. Donalda, Alberta’s Curtis Cassidy blazed his way to an outstanding 3.6 second run for his first go-round win at this Wrangler National Finals. The veteran who has twelve Canadian titles to his credit, used the $26,230 winner’s cheque to move back to the lead in the world standings as he and Tyson, the Canadian Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year were flawless on a speedy night of bulldogging that saw four men check in with times under four seconds.
“It’s an uphill battle here every day,” Cassidy acknowledged. “The first night my horse had an off night and that’s just not like him. I was up the next morning at five am watching the videos from that first round. But last night and tonight with Scott and I winning the rounds—Tyson showed his true colours. There’s no other rodeo like this one–it’s like ten one-headers; you go from dust the first night to diamonds tonight. But my job is to score good, ride good and bulldog good and just go at ‘em every night.”
The second of the Canadian contingent, Scott Guenthner, followed up his third round win with a solid 4.1 run, good for a fifth place $11,000 payout to stay just $3000 behind his Canadian teammate in the world standings. Guenthner, the reigning Canadian Champion, has been making a statement since his opening round misfortune when, like Cassidy, he took a no-time. In the last three rounds, the Provost, Alberta cowboy has won over $50,000 with a ¾ split in round two, last night’s win with his spectacular 3.3 and tonight’s fifth place finish.
The barrel racing event become a whole lot more interesting after round 4 with first time WNFR qualifier, Jessica Telford running the fastest time of the rodeo (13.49 seconds), Amberleigh Moore earning her fourth consecutive go-round cheque (to retain the aggregate lead) and overall leader, Hailey Kinsel hitting a barrel and dropping from 2nd to 7th in the Aggregate. But for Canadians, even more compelling was seeing Savona, BC cowgirl, Carman Pozzobon, earn her first-ever WNFR cheque – $4,230 for 6th place courtesy of a 13.76 second run on her mare Ripn Lady (Ripp).
In the bareback riding, Orin Larsen managed an 83 score aboard Scarlet Lady from the Bridwell Rodeo firm but that wasn’t enough to get to the money in the 4th go-round. The round victory lap was made by Caleb Bennett who posted an 86.5 mark for the win. Larsen, the Inglis, Manitoba hand, fell to fifth in the world standings that are still led by the two-time and reigning World Champion, Tim O’Connell.
It was e-pen (eliminator) night in the saddle bronc riding and the horses bucked off the first five cowboys out (and 11 out of 15 overall). Unfortunately for Canadian fans, two of those first five guys were the Canadians—2016 World Champion, Zeke Thurston and two-time and reigning Canadian champ Clay Elliott who will remain in 6th and 11th respectively in the world standings after four rounds. Northcott-Macza’s superstar bronc, Get Smart, made short work of the Iowa talent, Wade Sundell, who was no match for the four-time Canadian Champion on this night. The Calgary Stampede’s Tiger Warrior carried Ryder Wright to third place in the round with 85 points. The round was won by Rusty Wright who was 87 points for top spot but Cort Scheer continues to be the story in the bronc riding. The Ellesmere, Nebraska cowboy, a former Calgary Stampede champion and a five-time Canadian Finals rodeo qualifier is four for four, has won two rounds, leads the aggregate and has moved to 4th overall, just $40,000 back of the leader, Ryder Wright.
In another quick team roping round, WNFR qualifiers, Lane Ivy and Buddy Hawkins II, picked up their first round win of 2018 with a 4.1 second run for $26,230 each. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira (one of four teams who’ve roped all four steers… and the only team to be under 5 seconds on every run) continue to lead the average and the World standings in one of the tightest races of this year’s Finals.
Twenty-three time World Champion Trevor Brazile enjoyed his biggest night of this year’s NFR with a 6.8 second run in the tie-down roping – the fastest of the rodeo to date. The Decatur, Texas roper, who recently announced a limited rodeo schedule for 2019, remains in the lead in the All Around standings–just $7100 ahead of brother-in-law, Tuf Cooper. Shane Hanchey’s 7.4 second run – good for tonight’s 4th place cheque – helped move the 2018 Canadian Champion back into the overall tie down roping lead, though the all-important aggregate is shared for the moment by Ryle Smith and Marty Yates.
And the bull riding, despite the fact that the race has long been over, was not without drama. Four-time World Champion Sage Kimzey had to get on two bulls tonight—the second was Mo Betta’s Oh No and the bull put the almost unstoppable Texan on the ground at the five second mark, giving the go round win to Garrett Tribble with an 87. With that result, Tribble, an Oklahoma bull rider moved up to fifth place in the world standings. For the second of the four nights to date, only three men made the eight second horn. One of them was Athens, Texas’ Jeff Askey who was 84 for second in the round on the Outlaw Buckers bull, Red Pheasant